What is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal can only be categorised as a medical procedure that is used to remove body hair using laser light energy. A laser hair removal device emits IPL laser light during laser hair removal. The light energy gets absorbed by the melanin of the hair follicle of the hair. The light then gets turns into heat. The heat damages or destroys the tube-shaped sacs of the hair. So now the hair follicle has been damaged, it should stop growing and fall out.
In many cultures, unwanted hair is a prevalent cosmetic issue. Hirsutism, excessive hair growth in androgen-dependent locations, hypertrichosis, or increased hair density at any site on the body, can harm mental health by causing depression and anxiety. Hair removal treatments such as shaving, waxing, plucking, chemical depilatories, and electrolysis can improve one's quality of life; however, many of these methods are just temporary.
Nowadays, hair reduction that is safe, long-lasting, and effective for both aesthetic and medicinal reasons is in high demand. Epilation by plucking or waxing, depilation by shaving, chemical depilatories, electrolysis, eflornithine cream, and laser and intense pulsed light (IPL) systems are all methods for hair removal. However, the most effective choices for long-term hair reduction are lasers.
How does laser hair removal work?
The laser targets melanin in the hair shaft, follicular epithelium, and hair matrix by emitting light with wavelengths spanning from 600 to 1200 nanometers (nm), which are absorbed by the melanin in the hair. Due to the focused destruction of germinative cells in hair follicle-bulge, today's laser systems deliver longer-lasting results.
Various factors may affect the outcome, such as:
- Hair location (axillary and pubic hair respond better than the hair on the extremities and chest)
- Skin and hair colour (light skin with dark hair achieves the best results due to the lack of melanin in the skin and the abundance of melanin to absorb laser energy in the hair follicles)
- Hair growth stage (anagen hair being most sensitive)
- Laser type
- Hormonal status
- Treatment plan
How many sessions do I need to have?
Because the hair matrix is only responsive to laser treatment during the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle, we have found that many treatment sessions will be required to address all hair follicles at their most vulnerable time.
Therefore, if you want to achieve satisfactory results in the initial phase of hair removal therapy, we advise using the Bareskin device at least twice a week for the first two months. After that, users may require maintenance treatments every 3 to 6 months since little vellus hair may grow back.
Why do I need laser hair removal done?
Well, the answer is simple. Laser hair removal will remove unwanted hair from your body. If you are not a fan of body hair, you can use a laser hair removal device to remove hair and not worry about shaving daily. Most people can use a laser device to remove unwanted hair on almost every body part except maybe the eyebrows and the hair on the head.
Some exceptions depend on hair colour and hair types, but most people can use a laser hair removal machine to remove unwanted hair. If you are unsure if this cosmetic procedure will work for you, you can always consult a dermatologist and find out if lasers will work for your skin or hair.
How to prepare for laser hair removal?
If you want to use laser hair removal on yourself, you should avoid plucking, waxing, and electrolysis for at least six weeks before the procedure. This is because the laser targets the roots of the hairs, which are removed momentarily by waxing or plucking.
In addition, we advise that you avoid the sun for at least two weeks before and after your laser hair removal session. We have found that laser hair removal is less effective when exposed to the sun, and problems after treatment are more common.
What are the benefits of laser hair removal?
- Precision. Lasers can target dark, coarse hairs while causing no damage to the surrounding skin.
- Speed. Each laser pulse lasts a fraction of a second and can treat many hairs at once. Every second, the laser can treat an area around the size of a quarter.
- Small parts, like the upper lip, can be treated in under a minute, while larger areas, like the back or legs, can take up to an hour.
- Predictability. After three to seven treatments, most users have semi-permanent hair loss.
Are there any side effects?
Post-treatment erythema, discomfort, and burning are all common side effects of laser hair removal. However, it is essential to note that these side effects are temporary and will wear off after a few days.
Blisters, crusting, dyspigmentation, purpura, and scarring are more severe side effects.
Choosing the best laser with the proper parameters is critical and personalised for each patient, especially in people with innately dark skin. Most of the skin issues we have noted can be avoided if reasonable precautions are followed, such as adjusting the fluence, spot size, wavelength, and cooling. As a result, it's even more critical that these treatments get carried out by trained individuals who thoroughly understand the principles, approaches, and problems.
What do to after laser treatment?
The treated region of your skin will appear and feel burnt for a day or two after that. Moisturisers and cool compresses may be beneficial. Unless your skin is blistering, you can wear makeup the next day if your face is treated.
Your treated hair will fall out throughout the next month. To help avoid transitory changes in the colour of the treated skin, use sunscreen for the next month.
Who should not do laser hair removal?
Individuals with bleach-blonde, or red hair, to a lack of melanin, scarcity of melanin, or presence of eumelanin, are not ideal candidates for laser hair removal since melanin in the hair shaft is required for efficient laser hair removal.
Although today obsolete, the usage of gold salts, which were once used to treat conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, is a contraindication to laser therapy. Chrysiasis, a kind of cutaneous hyperpigmentation, can be caused by laser treatment and gold consumption. The use of the long-pulsed ruby 98 and pulsed dye 99 lasers to treat chrysiasis is restricted, with only a few case reports demonstrating improvement.
While patients are on isotretinoin, the use of laser hair removal is debatable. Although current research suggests it is safe, there is a risk of phototoxicity, skin fragility, delayed tissue repair, and a delay in reepithelialisation and scar formation. Because of these possible side effects, laser hair removal is recommended only after a washout period of at least 6 to 12 months.
What about at-home laser hair removal machines?
Yes, you get laser hair removal gadgets that you can use at home. These device or machines uses the same IPL technology that you would find at a laser hair removal clinic or spa. Light IPL and laser technology have been around for many years, and the size of these machines has gotten smaller. So, these days, you can purchase your device at a fraction of the cost of visiting a hair clinic. These devices work well and last over 12 years or more.
Medically reviewed by: Dr. Dusan Sekulic M.D